Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Perfect Storm, Part 2

With my absolutely best fresh tomato sauce safely in the fridge, the Hubby and I headed to the Cape Land and Sea Harvest (CLASH) Farmer’s Market in Hyannis where we bought a whole bag of produce. The torrential downpour cut the Market short, so we headed to Trader Joe’s to continue our gathering food date.

We browsed through Trader Joe’s for about an hour and at some point as we wandered the aisles, seduced by exotic food, a plan was hatched to not just make homemade pasta, but to combine the Royal Foodie Joust with my pasta making experiment. I’m pretty sure this was the Hubby’s suggestion, but I jumped right on board and took over the engine of that train.

It seemed like a great idea. I would make homemade ravioli with parsley in the dough and fill it with sautéed fennel and leeks and ricotta and parmesan topped with my fresh tomato sauce. Doesn’t that sound great? Yeah, it did to me too.

I did a little research on how to make homemade pasta and most recipes seemed to call for about 1 egg for every cup of flour. I made my flour mound and made a little cavern in center, planning to take a photo once I broke my eggs into their little nest. Unfortunately my eggs overflowed and it was a sticky mess for a few minutes until I got the dough under control. I kneaded the dough for 15 minutes and let it rest while I mixed up my filling.

Rolling the dough was the most strenuous work I’ve done in the past month - or maybe year. Literally. The Hubby laughed as I sweated and swore. “Now you know why those old Italian women have such strong arms,” he said.

Filling them wasn’t very easy either. As I wet each edge and pinched the sides closed I was positive they were going to fall apart as they cooked, leaving me with a watery fennel and cheese mess.

By the time I was done forming the ravioli, I was so stressed out I needed a drink. I made myself a martini, using that delicious tomato nectar (thank God I saved it!)

Well, the ravioli held together - like glue. Even after I boiled them for 15 minutes. Even though they were only supposed to take about 3 minutes. Apparently I didn’t roll my dough thin enough. Now I understand why people use pasta machines.

But even 15 minutes didn’t make these babies tender. And the filling was surprisingly bland, despite the sautéed fennel bulb and ground fennel seeds. So I am not sharing that recipe here and I’m not entering that recipe in the Foodie Joust. It just isn’t good enough.

Luckily I served stuffed Italian peppers filled with hot Italian sausages with my ravioli and they were easy, inexpensive and quite yummy, so I do have a recipe for this post.

If anyone has any tips on how to make really good homemade pasta, I'd love to hear them...

Sausage Stuffed Italian Peppers

4 Italian horned shaped bell peppers
2 links of your favorite Italian sausage (we like them hot, but any sausage would be good)
1 jar Ragu spaghetti sauce

Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds being careful not to break peppers. Cut casings off sausage and place in a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce and mix thoroughly with hands until well blended. Stuff equal portions of sausage into peppers and place in baking pan. Pour remaining sauce over peppers. Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.


Michele said...

The photo of the ravioli's on the plate is beautiful! Even if it didn't turn out the way that you wanted it looks great. If you have a kitchen aid mixer I suggest the pasta attachment. Works like a charm!

Laurie said...

Michele, I wish I had a kitchen aid mixer! But sadly, I do not. But my dear friend Candy offered to lend me her pasta maker and I plan to take her up on it.

They really were pretty, and they tasted fine, just not awesome.

Alicia Foodycat said...

I love reading about other people's failures. Makes me feel better about my own! But your dough was looking so promising there - I can't believe they were that bad.